Author Archive | hortoris

Georg Adalbert Arends Old German Plantsman

Georg Arends was a German nurseryman who bred many perennial plants. His business was successful until the second world war and has been regenerated to be one of the oldest in Europe. It still remains within the Arends family.

Among over 300 plants that Georg bred are included ‘Arendsii’ versions of Aconitum, Arabis, Phlox and Hosta sieboldiana. He also specialised in Bergenia breeding ‘Abendglocken’, ‘Morgenrote’ and the white flowered ‘Silberlicht’. (I was told Bergenia were called Elephant plants because an elephant could stamp on them and they would survive. However a more popular name is Elephant Ears after the leaves.)

One of Georg’s favourite Berginia (wiki)

Rhododendron ‘Georg Arends’ was named after him. Dobbies say that it forms ‘A spectacular evergreen shrub that produces masses of large bright red flowers in mid May, up to 7.5cm in diameter, on a round shaped and bushy plant with dark green foliage.’

David Austin sells an old rose called Georg Arends which he claims it is ‘A good shrub with large, rose pink blooms of perfect Hybrid Tea shape; the petals curling back at the edges in a most beautiful manner. Deliciously fragrant. Recurrent flowering’.

A recent article in the Financial Times celebrates 130 years of Georg’s nursery business – I wish I had plants that lived a tenth as long.


Cyclamen that Flower in Winter

The late season flowering of Cyclamen is just one of the reasons to grow these useful flowers. There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a special selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a deciduous tree. The underside of the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson


British View of American Landscape

Some time ago in the pre-Trump era the west lawn at the British Museum  showed plants from North America landscape. The plants were provided in partnership with Kew but the photographs were mine taken in September.
I now wish I had also visited to see and take pictures of earlier spring and summer flowers fro N America.

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Amongst the more colourful flowers were a range of ‘tickseed’ which is the American name for Coreopsis. I like to grow these airy prairie plants even in darkest Yorkshire and you may see why from these photos.

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Trust me to get a photo of mildew! Must try again.

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The Museum garden had a lot going on in both leaf and flower forms.
The signage was good but it wasn’t obvious to me which of three zones each plant portrayed; Woodland, Prairie or Wetland.
I am sure the wetland was represented by the wonderful insect eating Pitcher plants.
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Older Pitcher plants below.

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I am sure it wasn’t intentional on the part of Kew to include these British Rockies. I am sure the real thing are more awe inspiring.

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For me the September light set off these New England Asters a proper treat.

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Cone flowers Echinacea purpurea held there own!

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Orange Coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida. The seeds feed finches and Native Americans used a wash from the plant for snake bites, earache and for a variety of other medicinal purposes.
First known in England in 1789 when they were described by Wm Aiton the first curator at Kew and ‘His Majesty’s Gardener at
Kew and Richmond ‘.



Banana Republic and Musa Review

Banana hand

I have just finished eating a Fyffes banana grown in Costa Rica. They were certified by the Rainforest Alliance and were sold as ‘Ripe, snack size bananas’ and a very appropriate  name it was. In our fruit bowl we also have ‘organic Fairtrade bananas fro the Dominican Republic cutesy of the EEC at least until brexit by which time they will be well overripe.

This encouraged me to dig out an old post with photos from Kew in 2010. I was in the middle of a series of posts on fruit trees from exotic climes and realise that the Banana didn’t quite fit. Bananas are herbs and do not grow on trees. The stem,  can grow quite tall in some species and is really just matted together leaves.

Therefore I offered some of my photographs to show different varieties of Banana growing in Kew hot house and Madeira.

Kew Red Banana
Red Banana

Musa coccinea Red banana
Very Red Banana Musa coccinea

Commercial Banana plantation

Banana in Flower

Banana plantation
Banana Crop in Madeira

Read these articles for more information.

Banana growing in UK
Exotic Gardens to Visit to see Banana growing in UK

Other Musa Species and Genra

  • Plantains are  a cooking variety of Musa and a member of the banana family
  • Wild banana species, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana generally have seeds but cultivated bananas are almost always sterile and seedless
  • Wiki as usual has an authoritative list of Bananas and an explanation of their classification.
  • The false banana or ensete is a member of the Musa genra

Garden Problems Caused by Wind

Problems Caused by Wind

  • Wind desiccates leaves – moisture is gone with the wind
  • Even well rooted plants can be rocked by wind and this can be fatal to roses or fruit trees. Shrubs and tree growing at a slant caused by wind will never give of their best.
  • Wind abrades, rips and tears. I have just lost a good spray of chrysanthemums that I was looking forward to seeing in flower. Chrysanthemums stems often break near the joint with the main stem and I should have tied them up with more care or kept them out of the wind. Fleshy leaves like dahlias do not do well in wind.
  • A cold wind does no one any good and the wind chill factor can damage plants as well as gardeners.
  • In severe windy conditions pots can be blown over, loose debris scattered and even structural damage may occur. Pots appear top heavy when there is lots of growth that catches the wind. My clematis and runner beans  have caught the wind and both are leaning from the wind.
  • Trees and shrubs can be stunted by wind and will not reach thier normal potential. You seldom see giant trees on our windy coastline.
  • Unwanted seeds can be dispersed with only a gentle breeze

May all your winds be zephyrs and all your gales be miss spelt girls


Tips From Gardeners to Flower Arrangers

10 Comments from Gardeners to Flower Arrangers

  1. Prior to collecting material get your gardener to spray an insecticide to prevent pollen beetle and other insects being imported.
  2. All flowers will last longer if a foxglove is included in the arrangement. If they are not desired or available make a tea by pouring boiling water on foxglove leaves. When cool use the liquid with water.
  3. For delphiniums and larkspur add sugar don’t bother with the old Wive’s idea of an old penny (give it to the gardener).
  4. For daffodils and narcissus add charcoal or camphor to the water and preferably keep them from other flowers.
  5. Topmost buds should be nipped from gladioli, snapdragons and delphiniums.
  6. Heathers without water will last for weeks in the house without withering or dropping needles.
  7. Many spring flowering shrubs will last longer if picked in bud rather than full flower and stood in hot water first. Try this with Forsythis, Wintersweet, Witch hazel and willows.
  8. If flowering shrubs must be used the whole shoot should be taken down to two buds above old wood.
  9. Leave enough leaf material for plants to regenerate.
  10. Old flowers may be about to set seed and will not last long in the arrangement.


Meadow Flowering Wild or semi-cultivated

One red poppy to add interest to this photo of a ‘sown’ wild garden. The effect is pleasing with the cornflowers just breaking into colour.


A spring bulb meadow in a tree line glade.


Blue bells and tulips make a good combination. The fritillaries are nearly over.

Sown seed in a field of meadow grass cultivated to help this floral display.

An unusual August Wild Flower Garden when most wild flowers are spring flowering.


Drink to the Gardeners

Or more aptly what can gardeners do with their drinks and any remnants.

Tea leaves can be composted of course but they can also be put around Camellias as a mulch. This may seem a bit like cannibalism as the tea plant is part of the family Camellia sinensis. Comfrey leaves soaked and rotted down in water make a good cheap fertiliser suitable for flowers or fruit and other leaves such as nettles have similar attributes.

Milk is slightly acidic (lactic acid) and washing out your old bottles and use the water for a mild liquid manure of indoor plant.

Coffee grounds and cup remnants can go on the compost heap or be used around small succulent plants to deter snails.

A beer after a hard session in the garden can refresh the jaded gardener but can a drop or two help any plants. The yeast in beer may have some benefit and it is worth rinsing the bottle of can onto hollyhocks or climber. In the unlikely event there is any beer un-drunk it is well known that slugs glug beer and can drown in a beer trap.

When it comes to washing up after all that drink the soapy water can be used on the garden. Soda based cleaners are said to be good for use on brassicas.

After the Drinking

Micturation or the production of urine is an inevitable byproduct of all that drinking. Human urine is rich in nitrogen and urea. Fresh urine can be used to water plants diluted 1:10. Alternatively add it to your compost heap to enhance its nutritional content.

Victorian musical hall artist Marie Lloyd had a famous song ‘She Sits Among The Cabbages and Peas’. To over come complaints from the moral police of the time she sang a new version ‘She Sits Among The Cabbages and Leeks’.

‘Oh, she sits among the cabbages and peas
With a pretty little peapot ‘tween her knees
She’s a whiz at shelling peas
So she sits and shells with ease
Till the pretty little peapot’s full of peas.


Play Music to Your Grass

If Prince Charles can talk to flowers and plants perhaps your grass would like to listen to some classical music. Nocturnes may be more appropriate than ‘the floral dance’ or anything else that attracts weeds.

Grass & Lawn Music

  • Beethoven first movement (of the lawn mower) is  one of his lesser known hits.
  • 1812 is the best time of day to trim your edges.
  • To get neat patterns on the grass go Bach over it in opposite directions.
  • Fertilse your lawn with Schubert to give it some fizz.
  • Do not let your tuning fork Liszt .
  • Grass clippings are due for some Chopin before they adorn the compost heap.
  • I use a hook shaped knife to get grass out of cracks in pavement and flagstones. I call it a Mahler.
  • Do the twitch’, like Cubby Checker’s twist only spelt differently.’
  • Edelweiss should be rolled over in the clover not Mendelssohned with.




Mildew on Oxford Roses

The dry weather has cause a lot of problems with moldew. (I should have said mildew but that is a Freudian slip I will leave in.) The worst affected in my garden is an early flowering clematis but this rose stem is not far behind.

It was draping over a wall in the centre of Oxford with two immaculate flowers on an adjacent branch. Humid and still air plus lack of rain are to blame.

Avoid & Treat Mildew

  • Select roses that have been bred to be mildew resistant.
  • Roses get stressed particularly through lack of water. Mulch after a good rain and keep the mulch topped up
  • Spray badly affected plants with Rose Clear 3 to try stop spores spreading.
  • Limit nitrogen fertiliser which encourages sappy growth  that  is prone to attack.

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